Pennsylvania’s Ratification of the 15th Amendment

Black men in Pennsylvania were given the right to vote not once but twice in the 18th and 19th centuries. Pennsylvania’s Constitution of 1776 had permitted tax-paying free Black men to vote. In 1838, however, Black suffrage became a point of high contention during a new Pennsylvania constitutional convention. Opposing groups sent various petitions to the convention advocating for and against...
read more

Preserving Pieces of Pennsylvania’s Past: An Inside Look at the Building of the Commonwealth’s Collections

Associations between butterflies and buttons, Conestoga wagons and cannon, sculpture and arrowheads, or fossils and founder William Penn’s original Charter may seem tenuous, even obscure and, perhaps, nonsensical. But a relationship does exist: they are among the one and a half million objects and thirty thousand cubic feet of manuscripts, records, maps and photographs in the custody and...
read more

Pennsylvania Volunteers in the War with Mexico

The war with Mexico, declared on May 13, 1846, was not generally popular throughout the United States. Many in the northern states perceived it as an effort to expand the territory suitable for slavery, there­by increasing the economic and political influence of the South. Many Pennsylvanians, however, did not share what has since been characterized as the typical northern attitude. Either from...
read more

“Your Future Depends on Yourself”: Asa Packer as the Self-Made Man

Nineteenth-century literature abounds with stories of men who rose from humble circumstances to great wealth by virtue of their own diligence, perseverance, and courage. Several of the most famous such works, novels written by Horatio Alger Jr. (1832-1899), became best-sellers because the American public relished his stories about plucky boys achieving their goals against all odds. In his first...
read more

Old Johnny’s Vision For An Industrial Society

Although Colonel John Frederick Hartranft (1830-1889) was only in his thirties during the Civil War, the rank and file of his 51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment fondly called him “Old Johnny.” His soldiers especially respected his ability to make the right decisions in combat and his altogether impartial and basically humane discipline. With a mind and eye trained as a civil...
read more

The Pennsylvania Civil War Muster Rolls Project

Imagine, nearly a century and a half ago, an entire company of soldiers mustering out at the end of their service. A hundred or more war-wearied men line up and, one-by-one, give a personal accounting to field clerks as they leave the army to return home. Company officers sitting at a makeshift table huddle over a huge sheet of heavy ruled paper and list each soldier and record what happened to...
read more

Into the Woods: The Blooming Grove Hunting and Fishing Club

Cruising eastward across the scenic landscape in northern Pennsylvania on Interstate Route 84 toward Matamoras, Pike County, past Promised Land State Park, motorists pass through a historic, privately owned and managed wildlife reserve. For 136 years, the Blooming Grove Hunting and Fishing Club (BGHFC), chartered in 1871 as the Blooming Grove Park Association, has protected what is now 19,000...
read more

John White Geary’s White Star Identity Badge

John White Geary (1819–1873) was a courageous individual who gallantly served his country, fighting in both the Mexican War of 1846–1848 and the American Civil War, and dutifully led his Commonwealth as governor for two consecutive terms, from 1867 to 1873. Born near Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, he attended Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Washington County, from which he graduated in...
read more

An Interview with Richard C. Saylor: The Impact of the Civil War Legacy in Pennsylvania

Richard C. “Rich” Saylor, an archivist with the Pennsylvania State Archives, has been deep within the treasures that are the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) collections for nearly twenty years. He has become a highly respected expert on Pennsylvania Civil War history, research, and artifacts on behalf of the Commission. With a master’s degree in American Studies from Penn...
read more

Bookshelf

Soldiers to Governors: Pennsylvania’s Civil War Veterans Who Became State Leaders by Richard C. Saylor published by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2010; 196 pages, cloth, $59.95 The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) safeguards a literal treasure trove of artifacts and documents associated with the American Civil War and six veterans of the war who later...
read more